Amnesty says hundreds detained in Kashmir without charge or trial
Amnesty International has accused the government of detaining hundreds of people each year in Kashmir without charge or trial under a “draconian” Indian law.
The rights group said India’s Public Safety Act (PSA) had been used to detain up to 20,000 people without trial over the past two decades. Public Safety Act allows for detention without trial for up to two years.
Tens of thousands have died in the disputed region, which India and Pakistan claim in full but rule in parts, since a revolt against New Delhi’s broke out in 1989.
“The Jammu and Kashmir authorities are using PSA detentions as a revolving door to keep people they can’t or won’t convict through proper legal channels locked up and out of the way,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.
Here’s the Amnesty International report released in Srinagar on Monday.
Earlier in January, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, also called for reforms including the repeal of laws giving security forces wide powers of arrest across Kashmir.
Rebel violence is on decline. But there has been a resurgence of street protests across the strife-torn region. At least 110 people were killed last year and dozens were wounded, mostly by police bullets, during the protests, the biggest in 21 years.
“Despite this apparent shift in the nature of the unrest, Jammu and Kashmir authorities continue to rely on the PSA rather than attempting to charge and try those suspected of committing criminal acts,” said Sam Zarifi.
Amnesty says the PSA undermines the rule of law and reinforces deeply held perceptions “that police and security forces are above the law.”
Amnesty International research shows the implementation of the PSA is often arbitrary and abusive, with many of those being held having committed no recognisably criminal acts. The Supreme Court has described administrative detention, including the PSA, as ‘lawless law’. The rights group has called on New Delhi to revoke the law and introduce safeguards ensuring those detained are charged promptly, have access to relatives, legal council and medical examinations and are held in recognised detention facilities pending trial.
Will New Delhi revoke the law in Kashmir where separatist violence has fallen to its lowest level since an anti-India insurgency broke out over two decades ago?